Preliminary research has found a delay in autism diagnosis for minority children. On average, the developmental disability is diagnosed by the time a child is four years old, but autism expert David Mandell at the University of Pennsylvania says minority children are being diagnosed as much as a year and a half later than White children. Socioeconomics, less education about the condition, and access to healthcare are being cited as key problems.
Rebecca Landa, the director of Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute believes cultural differences may also be to blame. "Tots tend to point before they talk, but pointing is rude in some cultures and may not be missed by a new parent," she said. “Or maybe mom's worried that her son isn't talking yet but the family matriarch, her grandmother, says ‘don't worry – Cousin Harry spoke late, too, and he's fine.’ Or maybe the pediatrician dismissed the parents' concern, and they were taught not to question doctors.”
Landa reported her findings in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders noting that even when detected early, minority children have more severe symptoms than their White counterparts. She hopes to combat this problem by her "Why wait and see?’’ campaign. For it, Landa is developing videos that show typical and atypical behaviors and plans to ask Maryland pediatricians to show them to parents.
Is there a more rapid solution for this problem? Is Landa correct when she theories about cultural differences?